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Ansell v. Ansell

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 10, 2014

ANSELL
v.
ANSELL; and vice versa

Reconsideration denied July 29, 2014.

Custody. Bartow Superior Court. Before Judge Nelson.

Charles Crawford , Akin & Tate, W. Morgan Akin , S. Lester Tate III, for appellant.

Christian A. Coomer, for appellee.

PHIPPS, Chief Judge. Ellington, P. J., and McMillian, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 917

Phipps, Chief Judge.

These appeals are related to a child custody dispute. In Case No. A14A0308, the father challenges that portion of a child custody order requiring him, over his objection, to cooperate with the mother in obtaining a passport for their minor child. The father also contends that the trial court erred by failing to award him attorney fees in his successful contempt action against the mother. In Case No. A14A0309, the mother filed a cross-appeal, challenging the trial court's finding that she was in contempt of court.

For the reasons that follow, in Case No. A14A0308, we affirm the judgment of the trial court as to the denial of the father's request for attorney fees, and in Case No. A14A0309, we affirm the judgment of the trial court as to the finding that the mother was in contempt of court. However, in Case No. A14A0308, we vacate the judgment insofar as it requires the father to execute documents consenting to [328 Ga.App. 587] the issuance of a passport for the minor child; as to that issue, we remand the case for the trial court to reconsider its grant of relief to the mother in accordance with certain federal regulations which require no action by the father.

The relevant facts of this case are that Seth and Anna Ansell divorced in 2007, and have one child, born in June 2004. In the divorce, the trial court awarded the parents " joint legal custody" of the child; the mother was awarded primary physical custody. In 2011, the father filed a " Motion for Contempt and Complaint for Modification of Custody" ; he also sought attorney fees for bringing the contempt action. The mother answered and filed a counterclaim for contempt and for modification, seeking, among other things, an order limiting the child's travel outside the United States until the child obtained a valid U.S. passport, because her old passport had expired.

After a hearing, the trial court entered an order in which it: (1) found the mother to be in contempt, which could be purged by payment of a fine; (2) denied the father's claim for attorney fees; (3) increased the father's visitation; and (4) required the father to cooperate with the mother in executing the necessary documents to obtain a passport for the child.

Case No. A14A0308

1. The father contends that the trial court erred in requiring him to cooperate with the mother in obtaining a passport for their minor child.[1]

In her counterclaim, the mother pointed out that in a prior modification action, the trial court had ordered that the child's passport be " in the possession of the parent with whom the child is physically present." At the hearing, the mother informed the court that the child's passport had expired, and that she sought to renew it so that the child could travel internationally, as she had in the past. The mother asked the trial court to order the father to comply with the passport application process, which required him to consent to the issuance of the passport. The father testified that he knew that the mother was from Russia, that the child had previously traveled to Russia, and that the child's passport had expired. However, the father testified that he objected to renewing the ...


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